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Valley getting $35M to prevent homelessness after recent spike

The rate of homelessness in Maricopa County jumped 35% this year. Over 30 local programs have recently been awarded funding to curb the rise in homelessness.

PHOENIX — Over 30 local programs providing social services have collectively been awarded $35 million in federal grants to help Valley residents find housing.

The Maricopa Association of Governments announced Wednesday the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had allocated funding to 32 programs in the Valley that assist vulnerable populations. 

“We know that housing is critical in ending homelessness, and this award helps us continue our mission of getting people into more permanent and stable housing,” said Riann Balch, co-chair of the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Board. 

One recipient of the funds is A New Leaf, a domestic violence shelter in the Valley that attempts to re-house victims of abuse. 

A full list of grant recipients can be found here.

The announcement comes as the Valley continues to grapple with a housing crisis brought on by rising rents.

An annual count conducted across Maricopa County on the night of Jan. 25 found 5,029 unsheltered individuals, which is a significant jump from the 3,767 counted in January 2020. 

A count was not done in 2021 due to the pandemic. 

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How big is Maricopa County?

Maricopa County is the United States’ 4th largest county in terms of population with 4,485,414 people, according to the 2020 Census. 

The county contains around 63% of Arizona’s population and is 9,224 square miles. That makes the county larger than seven U.S. states (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire). 

One of the largest park systems in the nation is also located in Maricopa County. The county has an estimated 120,000 acres of open space parks that includes hundreds of miles of trails, nature centers and campgrounds. 

The county’s seat is located in Phoenix, which is also the state capital and the census-designated 5th most populous city in the United States. 

The county was named after the Maricopa, or Piipaash, Native American Tribe.  

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